Drink local is the sign inside Fifth State
Distillery owned by Rob and Bridget Schulten where
their motto is "Made with pride in the great state of Connecticut."
Based in Bridgeport,
Connecticut, their award-winning Fifth State Distillery
products are made from locally grown Connecticut non-GMO corn and
are gluten-free. Handcrafted in small batches, Fifth State Distillery has been
turning heads with their delectable spirits since 2016.
Bridget and Rob Schulten
Fifth State Distillery
We met with Rob and Bridget
Schulten at Fifth State Distillery on Saturday, March 27, 2021 to learn about
their company and taste their extensive line of premium spirits. Passionate
about spirits and cocktails, Rob and Bridget Schulten founded their company in
2014, and opened the distillery in 2016.
Rob is a Connecticut native who
grew up in Darien where his family had farms while he was growing up. Bridget
hails from Georgia, and although Connecticut has been her home for 30 years,
her Southern hospitality is as charming as her soft drawl. They have strong
ties to supporting and sustaining the local farm community, purchasing their
corn used to produce their spirits from a local farm.
The name, Fifth State Distillery,
is a nod to Connecticut being the fifth state to join the union on January 9, 1788.
(Delaware was the first to enter on December 7, 1787 followed by Pennsylvania on
December 12, New Jersey on December 18, Georgia on January 2, 1788, and
Connecticut on January 9th.)
Rob Schulten and Edward F. Nesta
Touring Fifth State Distillery
Taking a tour with Rob and Bridget
was educational and fun and where we learned that they make all their spirits
from locally grown non-GMO corn, however, they do not use fresh corn, but
rather dry, cracked corn. When corn is fresh on the cob, it is a vegetable,
however when it is dried and removed from the cob it becomes a grain. The grain
is then used to create a mash, which is then fermented and distilled. Another
interesting note is that alcohol made from corn has a different viscosity and has
a more rounded mouthfeel. During the spirits making process, there are 3
distinct parts: heads (1%), the hearts, and tails (the film of oil left
behind). Fifth State Distillery opts to use the heads and hearts only in their
production of spirits. The day that we visited, they were making whiskey and
there was a delectable, heady, sweet corn aroma wafting in the air that
delighted our senses.
After touring their distillery and
watching the action take place, we took a seat at their bar to begin the
tasting portion of our education. Rob is a chemical engineer and the creative
genius behind their inspired line of spirits. He loves creating big flavors and
the distillery is like a big science project for him. Rob is always dreaming up
new ideas for products, which Bridget and son, Josh, are happy to assist,
taste, and provide input.
"Still" Making magic at Fifth State Distillery
We began by tasting their
award-winning, 3-time silver medalist Gin, which
is column distilled and bottled at 94 proof (47% alcohol by volume). The gin
has a very aromatic nose with floral and herbal notes, with juniper dominant on
the palate that leads to coriander, cardamon, lemon, and angelica, for a very
We continued with tasting their Seville
Gin, made with Seville oranges. (Debra) grew up eating British marmalade
made with Seville oranges, and Fifth State Distillery Seville Gin brought back many
fond memories. The Seville Gin had a nice balance of botanicals and orange
flavors that would be lovely to sip chilled or used in cocktails.
We also tasted their award-winning
Simply Celery, a handcrafted, small batch vodka infused with celery.
Tasting Simply Celery chilled was delicious and had us conjuring up how
wonderful it would be in Bloody Mary cocktails or martinis.
Every distillery has a special
spirit close to their hearts, and for Rob and Bridget, that would be their Ginger
Zap, (90 proof/45% alcohol by volume) a ginger flavored vodka made by
infusing "grandmother's hand" ginger in their vodka. The result is what Rob
likes to describe as "like eating ginger off a sushi platter" - no sugar or
sweetness, and it has a bite. They keep it chilled in the freezer, and it was
delicious. They use Ginger Zap to make their signature cocktail, a Cranberry
Mule made with equal parts of Ginger Zap, cranberry juice, and ginger beer. Shake
it with ice and serve as a martini, or over ice in a copper cup as you would a
Moscow Mule. For a festive holiday touch, they float a thin slice of jalapeno
when serving it martini-style.
In addition to their gins and
different vodkas, they also make whiskeys and liqueurs. Two of their delectable
liqueurs we tasted included their Chocolate XS, and Chocolate Orange
XS, which would be lovely to sip after dinner or add to coffee, over ice
cream, or used to enhance chocolate pudding or chocolate mousse. So many
delicious products, so many ideas on how to use them!
Distillery Products that are only available for purchase at the distillery
include: Limoncello, Orangecello, Chocolate XS, Chocolate Orange XS,
Cinnamon Zap Vodka, Seville Gin, Moonshine, and Barrel Strength Whiskey.
State Distillery products that can be purchased throughout the state of
Connecticut include: Fifth State Gin, Ginger Zap Vodka, Vodka, Simply Celery Vodka, CT Maple
Whiskey, Wonderful Water (Nutmeg Liqueur), and Hand Sanitizer.
- Luxury Experience interview with Bridget and Rob Schulten of Fifth State
Distillery - https://youtu.be/mu-7Z9EpufY
next time, cheers, its cocktail time!
additional information on Fifth State Distillery as well as purchasing
information please visit their website: www.fifthstatedistillery.com
State Distillery Hours: Monday - Thursday from 9:00 am - 12:00 pm, Friday -
closed, Saturday from 1:00 pm - 4:00 pm, Sunday closed.
more about Fifth State Distillery exceptional spirits and get culinary
and cocktail recipes in the Liquor Cabinet section.
259 Asylum Street
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